What is more preferable in Laptops, Intel or Nvidia?

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It feels so intimidating when you go out to purchase a new laptop and the salesperson confuses you with all the technical jargon such as this laptop has the latest Intel processor, this one has the latest Nvidia GPU, this one has the best graphics card and so on. Going through all that jargon might have made you think that how does a CPU work? or how does a GPU work? also, what is more, preferable in modern-day laptops, Intel or Nvidia? In this Laptopedia article, we will answer all these questions in simple layman language so that you could choose the perfect laptop for you.

What is CPU?

  • You might have heard that ‘CPU is the brain of the computer’. Well, that’s because it does all the tasks which are necessary to keep the Operating System Running and do all the General Purpose Task. Tasks such as listening to music, browsing on the Internet, Doing Basic Calculations and much more.
  • In layman’s term, you might think of it like a Swiss army knife, capable of doing many things but not specialized in any.
  • CPU executes tasks in sequential order that is in order to run a particular program let’s say Gmail, the CPU executes it in the following manner:-
    1. Open the Application
    2. Connect to the server
    3. Check for new emails
    4. Update the screen
    5. Notify the user

Note:- The above example is oversimplified just to highlight how CPU performs operations sequentially, one after another

  • Generally, CPUs have two to four cores, depending upon the use.
  • You may think of cores as the number of lanes on a highway. More the number of lanes, less the congestion, thus making your travel faster.

What is the GPU?

  1. To put it simply GPU is a specialized CPU (chip) that helps the system in operations primarily regarding rendering images.
  2. Or talking in terms of our previous analogy, GPU is like that special knife surgeon uses to perform the surgery,. After all, you can’t perform surgery using a swiss army knife, can you?
  3. Unlike CPU, GPU uses the concept of parallel computing which means it can perform tasks simultaneously!
  4. For example, let’s say you are playing a heavy graphic game, and to display that game you have to refresh every pixel of the display 60 times per second. Considering that the game is running at 60 Frames per Second.
  5. Here you have to do the same calculation sixty times in one second, which is how to display each pixel.
  6. This type of calculation can be done independently from one another. Which means that how we display the top right corner of the pixel doesn’t affect how we display the bottom left corner pixel. In other words, the color of the top right corner pixel is doesn’t affect the color of the bottom left corner pixel.
  7. As a result, we can calculate how to display two pixels parallelly and save time.
  8. Unlike CPU which have normally two to four cores going up till 32 cores. GPU has much more cores for an example the GPU ‘Nvidia GTX 980’ had more than 2000 cores in it!

Now that we know about the basic differences in CPU and GPU. Let’s have a look at two of the top companies which manufacture them, Intel and Nvidia respectively.

INtel Processors

Intel has been making CPU’s for a long time. They have also started making GPU’s which they integrate with the CPU’s itself. So it doesn’t take much space on the laptop. Such a hybrid is called an integrated GPU., Again putting this in our previous analogy of Swiss Army knife, the integrated GPU is like a regular knife we use at home, better than the Swiss army knife but not as good as the knife used by the surgeon to perform the surgery. Latest Intel processors CPU’s  are Intel Pentium series, i3, i5, i7, i9, etc. (Given in increasing order of processing power)

nvidia Graphic Cards

Nvidia produces dedicated GPU, and in terms of our analogy, it is that surgeon’s knife we have been talking about. Also, it is one of the largest GPU manufacturers in the world. A few of their latest GPU’s are Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, Nvidia GeForce GTX 2080 SUPER, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. (Given in increasing order of processing power)

Okay so let’s have a look at the pros and cons of different configurations of a laptop with only Intel CPU, Integrated Intel GPU, Dedicated Nvidia GPU.

only Intel CPU

  • PROS:-
    1. It can do all the basic operations.
    2. Uses less battery, thus extending the battery life.
    3. It can do complex operations as well.
  • CONS:-
    1. Works sequentially thus slowing down the process and increase the time complexity for certain operations.
    2. Not Good at tasks which require the concept of parallel computing eg:- rendering, Cryptocurrency mining, machine learning models training, etc.

Intel integrated gpu

  • PROS:-
    1. The Integrated Graphics Card is more economical than the Dedicated Graphics Card. For example, you can buy a laptop with Integrated graphics card starting from mere 15,000 ₹
    2. An integrated graphics card also generates much less heat than a dedicated video card (GPU). As a result, uses drastically less power. As a result, it improves the overall battery life and proves great when you are going to use your laptop outdoors.
    3. Integrated graphics cards are perfect for people doing everyday graphics processing. This includes watching or editing videos (basic editing), 2D gaming and general word processing. Such activities aren’t graphic-intensive, so a low-end Integrated GPU is ideal
  • CONS:-
    1. An integrated graphics processing unit (GPU) doesn’t have its own RAM so it utilizes the system’s memory instead. Thus slowing down the system. So, if you have a computer with 8GB of RAM, the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) can use anywhere between one to five percent of the available memory for graphics processing. This percentage varies depending on the type of task. If you’re multitasking or playing a high graphics game it will use more of the system’s memory.
    2. Although in an Integrated GPU you will be able to play 3D games or few triple-A title games. But you will have to turn down the graphics settings to low or lowest depending upon the game or you’ll experience in-game slowdowns (Frame Drops).

dedicated Nvidia gpu

  • PROS:-
    1. A dedicated, or discrete, GPU has its own independent source of video memory, leaving the RAM your system uses untouched. Thus doesn’t slow down the system. Let’s say If you have a GPU video card with 2GB of video memory, for example, that memory is completely separate from your computer’s 8GB of system memory.
    2. It also reduces rendering time considerably.
    3. Depending upon the GPU, you can play any games with the configuration ranging from moderate to high-level settings.
    4. It is also great for cryptocurrency miners which require various mathematical equations to be solved, it is also great for video editors especially those who are applying Photoshop filters across multiple layers or doing 3D modeling, also you can train any Machine Learning model with significantly less time then the Integrated GPU.
  • CONS:-
    1. If your laptop doesn’t have the appropriate design or a good fan, these video cards (GPU) will get warm. If you are a serious gamer or if you run a dual-monitor system, the GPU will have to work even harder and will heat up quickly. Thus making these cards power-hungry, so using a laptop with a dedicated graphics card will decrease the battery life greatly.
    2. You should also expect to pay more for this kind of card, as the most basic laptop with entry-level dedicated GPU costs around 50,000₹ thus making it almost thrice as costlier as an integrated GPU one.
    3. They are relatively bulkier thus reducing portability.

Final verdict

So coming down to our main question, What is more, preferable in laptops- Nvidia or Intel?

The Answer is,

It Depends, it depends on the type of work you are going to do with your laptop,if it is regular browsing, listening to songs, checking emails then any Intel laptop without an Integrated GPU will work great, but if it is all that and also light video editing, casual gaming then go for Intel Integrated Graphics Card and if you are a heavy user who is Going to use their laptop for hardcore gaming, heavy video editing, cryptocurrency mining, machine learning then go for laptops with dedicated Nvidia GPU.

It can also be summarised as, buy a laptop which has:-

INTEL (Only CPU) Regular browsing, listening to songs, checking emails, word processing
INTEL (Integrated GPU)Light video editing, casual gaming, regular browsing, listening to songs, checking emails, word processing
NVIDIA (Dedicated GPU)Hardcore gaming, heavy video editing, 3D animation, cryptocurrency mining, machine learning

Little extra information on Intel CPU’s and Nvidia GPU’s

  • Remember that the integrated GPU uses system memory as a frame buffer (loosely means:- part of RAM which Integrated GPU uses) and thin laptops generally come with Low Power DDR (LPDDR) RAM and Ultra-low-voltage (ULV) CPUs, which can bottleneck the integrated GPU (can’t take full advantage of GPU). It is always a good bet to know the class of processor and type of RAM used so that you can directly correlate that to the integrated graphics performance.
  • Also, some video cards are switchable. This means the GPU is built as a dedicated and integrated card. When you do things such as editing a spreadsheet or browse, the card switches to the integrated unit, which will preserve the battery of your laptop. When you watch a high-definition movie or play a graphic-heavy game, the card then powers up and works as a dedicated card, improving the overall performance but lowering the battery life. High-end gaming laptops with switchable graphics tend to come with a hardware switch called the multiplexer (MUX) which lets you switch between integrated and dedicated graphics.

Once you have decided what processor you want, the next step is to find out what type of storage device is right for you. Click here to find out whether you should have an SSD or an HDD in your laptop and also what is the difference between them.

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